Nonfiction > Henry Craik, ed. > English Prose > Vol. II. Sixteenth Century to the Restoration
Henry Craik, ed.  English Prose.  1916.
Vol. II. Sixteenth Century to the Restoration
George Herbert at Bemerton
By Izaak Walton (1593–1683)
From the Lives

IT was not many days before he returned back to Bemerton to view the church, and repair the chancel, and indeed to rebuild almost three parts of his house which was fallen down or decayed by reason of his predecessor’s living at a better parsonage house, namely, at Minal, sixteen or twenty miles from this place. At which time of Mr. Herbert’s coming alone to Bemerton, there came to him a poor old woman, with an intent to acquaint him with her necessitous condition, as also with some troubles of her mind; but after she had spoken some few words to him, she was surprised with a fear, and that begot a shortness of breath, so that her spirits and speech failed her; which he perceiving, did so compassionate her, and was so humble, that he took her by the hand, and said, “Speak, good mother, be not afraid to speak to me, for I am a man that will hear you with patience, and will relieve your necessities too, if I be able, and this I will do willingly; and therefore, mother, be not afraid to acquaint me with what you desire.” After which comfortable speech, he again took her by the hand, made her sit down by him, and understanding she was of his parish he told her “He would be acquainted with her and take her into his care.” And having with patience heard and understood her wants—and it is some relief for a poor body to be heard with patience—he, like a Christian clergyman, comforted her by his meek behaviour and counsel; but because that cost him nothing, he relieved her with money too, and so sent her home with a cheerful heart, praising God and praying for him. Thus worthy, and, like David’s blessed man, thus lowly, was Mr. George Herbert in his own eyes, and thus lovely in the eyes of others.
  At his return that night to his wife at Bainton, he gave her an account of the passages betwixt him and the poor woman; with which she was so affected, that she went next day to Salisbury, and there bought a pair of blankets, and sent them as a token of her love to the poor woman; and with them a message, “That she would see and be acquainted with her when her house was built at Bemerton.”  2

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